3 Books Weekly #8: Featuring futurist Natalie D Kane

09.00, Friday 22 Apr 2016

The following was first posted on the 3 Books Weekly email newsletter and has since been archived here.

Hi folks

Today’s book recommendations come from Natalie Kane who is a researcher into (amongst other things) the future, and ghosts. I know right?? Natalie’s website is chock full of fascinating writing, and you can follow her on Twitter as @nd_kane.

She’s chosen to share a eclectic collection of books. It’s one of those selections that makes me want to read them all. I hope you feel the same way.

Some quick bookshop news while I’m here!

  1. Next week is sci-fi week! Look out for new stock on Monday – follow @MachineSupply to get the latest
  2. The residency at Google’s Campus building in Shoreditch comes to an end in two weeks. Booooo. HOWEVER, I have an exciting next location lined up… which I’ll say more about next week. In the meantime, come visit
  3. Crazy experience: the BBC did a piece on Machine Supply! The blimmin BBC!!!! So here’s a video of me gabbing on about vending machines. Thanks Team Beeline and Sarah Drinkwater (head of Campus) for taking part. btw the journalist asked me whether this was yet another example of the robots taking our jobs. Watch the vid to see my answer.

This is 3 Books Weekly #8 – hope you’re having a great Friday. Now let’s hear from Natalie.


#1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Modern Classics), by Shirley Jackson

This is a really recent read for me, and it hit me like a sledgehammer. I like quiet, bewitching books that aren’t necessarily full of action or adventure, but overwhelm you with the human relationships and neuroses within. It’s the story of a small family, hidden away after a terrible event, who are just starting their reconnection to the small town outside of their territory. Mary-Katherine, Merricat for short, buries things for protection, for good luck, or to keep the townfolk away. There’s a scene in this that will absolutely rip your heart out, and make you rage at the injustice thrown at this magical, painfully isolated family. It’s about how outsiders are seen by society, and what happens when a supposedly well-meaning outside world tries to make them fit. In so many ways the house, and the narrative, is frozen in time. It’s a really wonderful book, and the last chapter continues to haunt me.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Modern Classics): Amazon / Amazon UK

#2. Fahrenheit 451 (Flamingo Modern Classics), by Ray Bradbury

I’m a big fan of the very mundane, but highly human, fiction of people such as Raymond Carver and Carson McCullers. Bradbury sits there in the middle. I always come back to him when I think about the stories we should be telling about the future, which are first and foremost human, and secondly, far more mundane, and bureaucratic, and broken than we imagine. There’s a great scene early on in Fahrenheit 451, where Montag’s wife is sitting in the centre of her living room, watching the people on the televisions lining almost every wall in the apartment. It’s the vision of what we thought the future might be like, with the most impressive technology we can imagine, but when asked to tell them off, she tells him no, ‘They are my family.’ That line reveals something deeply disturbing about the character’s relationship to this kind of future, a supplement for any real engagement with physical, real, human beings.

Fahrenheit 451 (Flamingo Modern Classics): Amazon / Amazon UK

#3. Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work (Jacobin), by Melissa Gira Grant

This is a fundamentally important book for anyone who wants to understand the work of sex work, the labour politics behind it, and most importantly, the people involved. I’ve been following Melissa’s writing for years and years, so when this book came out I was hugely excited. I was just starting to understand the unique issues around sex work, and this is a perfect primer who wants to know more, or want to look away from the often mainstream narrative that all sex workers need saving. It’s absolutely eye-opening, expertly arguing the importance of decriminalising sex work for the safety of those involved, and as a way to treat it how it actually is, work, with all of the laws and legislation involved. As Melissa goes on, separating it from the ‘legitimate’ economy, not removing stigma, is dangerous, and only marginalises further those we should be helping have these rights. It’s a book I vigorously nodded through.

Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work (Jacobin): Amazon / Amazon UK

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